GRANGER at Halloween for 10/26/16: THE TEAR IN THE WRAPPER

Truth in advertising“, it read.

Image result for coffee and Autumn

Granger was fed up with the glut of political flyers in his mailbox and inboxes.  Tossing on his desk the garishly colored hit piece in yoga pants by a former state senator, he swung around and gazed unfocused out the window at a grayish, cotton-streaked sky with bruise-blue accents.  Chuffing through his nose, he thought, “Even the sky’s puzzled by it all.”

Bemused, he reached for his “Coffee Made Me Do It” mug.  Just before he got it to his mouth, he noticed the “fun-size” Butterfinger laying on his desk; it had been hidden by the big black mug.  Glancing over at the glass bowl full of assorted Halloween-sized candy, he saw many other bars identical to the one huddled behind his coffee.  You won’t get away from me-e-e . . .

Image result for fun-size Butterfinger

Amused at the desire-borne moisture in his mouth, he glommed onto the familiar yellow-orange-gold wrapper.  Granger actually licked his lips as he tore the wrapper lengthwise.

Opening the wrapper, he grimaced in disgust.  Really?  Instead of the neat, compact one-by-two-inch chocolate-covered nougat he expected to find, a sharded mess of odd-shaped pieces had fallen onto his black crew-neck tee and khaki pants.

Irritated, he started to grouse about something more to clean up when he suddenly got quiet.

I know people like that, he reasoned.  Brightly packaged, looking like others in The Bowl, like they’ve got it all together–until the wrapper comes off.  Unwrapped, they’re a ragged, jagged collection of misshapen pieces just waiting to fall all over the place.

Yeah, I know people like that.  I’ve been like that.

Image result for people wearing I'm fine masks

As these thoughts jostled each other in his mind, he glanced again at the phrase off the discarded voting flyer:  “Truth In Advertising”.

Image result for people wearing I'm fine masks gif

Granger’s eyes blurred and his voice thickened as he spoke aloud, a habit of those who spend most of their time alone.  “Oh, yeah.  Many’s the time that, had my wrapper torn, all my hidden insecurities, my personal misgivings, self-doubt, all those questions about myself would be laying all over in a huge, untidy mess just like–here he made a rueful face as he surveyed the slightly-sticky, sweet mess he’d dumped on his clothes– “my ill-fated little candy bar buddy, may it rest in pieces.”

Image result for Community Golden Caramel coffee

Later, wearing a comfortable black-and-red shirt with the sleeves rolled half up and a soft pair of old jeans, he stood with mug in left hand and coffee carafe in right, thinking about the recent experience.  Shaking his head as if to wake up, Granger poured a fresh, fragrant cup of Community Golden Caramel, returned to his desk chair and sat pondering.

Is it wrong to present a public appearance that’s attractive, appropriate to one’s task?  Does that not reflect good self-image and -respect?

Is it deceptive to present an outward persona that’s positive and uplifting, even when one’s interior landscape more resembles a barren wasteland?  As a Christ-follower, isn’t being winsome and attractive kind of necessary?

Sipping thoughtfully at the semi-sweet, smooth coffee, he answered his own question.

Deception is willful.  Wearing a mask is intended to hide, to frustrate and conceal.  If those are the reasons for the wrapper, then the advertising is dishonest and disingenuous.

Image result for Christ Like spirit despite internal pain

Image result for Christ Like spirit despite internal pain

If one’s desire is to be a consistent positive, encouraging and Christlike witness to one’s own world, then God can be trusted to know how to tenderly deal with the internal brokenness.  To fit the nonfitting.  To create beauty and symmetry just as perfectly as He did at The Original Event.

Rising to refill his mug, Granger thoughtfully nabbed another of the sweet, chocolaty morsels from the Halloween bowl.  Grinning as he softly checked that this one was whole, he admitted to himself, I don’t have this here “for the kids” since none ever come up here.  I have this here for me.  And I’m lovin’ it!

Butterfinger?

© D. Dean Boone, October 2016

 

Categories: Encouragement, Inspirational, Tell-A-Story-Make-A-Point | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2nd Cup of Coffee, 10/8/18: WHAT IF WE MADE “BEING GRATEFUL” JOB 1?

Happy people focus on what they have, and unhappy people focus on what’s missing.  Attitude makes the difference.

I was sipping some great Costa Rica dark roast while culling countless memes for the few worth keeping.  Writers collect such.  I’ve been known to save a picture from someone’s email or a meme, and have it mysteriously morph into an entire story line . . . I digress.

As I scrolled, this popped up.

On a sticky note, someone had written, “What if you woke up this morning having only those things you told God ‘Thank you’ for yesterday?”

That brought me up short and I began to think.

Seriously.  I sat back, took another sip or two of java, and began to retrace my gratitude of yesterday.

Yesterday, October 7, 2018, I thanked God for

  • the gift of a fresh, new 24 hours of living.
  • my breakfast, the privilege to be able to eat it, and the ongoing miracle of my tiny remaining piece of small gut to absorb enough nutrients to keep me functioning without any medical assistance – defying all prognoses of medical professionals saying it’s impossible for me to live.
  • the blessing of my career shift into pastoral ministry, which led to residency and irreplaceable years of service as a hospital chaplain, giving me both experience and tools with which to serve others now in specialized ways.
  • knowing how to treat the repetitive bouts with the physical challenges of my ‘Now’ without hospitalization.
  • the gift of an unforgettable wife, an understanding family, and a few close friends who know enough of my journey since Spring of 1997 that I need not explain when I’m feeling rough and need rest.
  • the blessing of being gifted to do what I’m doing right now:  to write encouragement and champion personal and spiritual excellence to into your lives.
  • You.  If there were no readers, there’d be no blog, no forthcoming books.  Since a day rarely passes without me doing some sort of writing, it’s also a rare day I don’t think about and pray about you.
  • the further anticipated blessings of a good income from my writing, which will help me be independent regardless of what lies ahead of me.
  • the toughness and gritty reality of my life experience thus far; it’s steeled me to face things God’s led me through I’d likely never have otherwise survived.

 

There were other gratitudinous items tossed in.  I’m always appreciative – often vocally so – of each morning’s first several cups of wonderful black, steaming, fragrant coffee.  Every time I hear a siren or series of sirens, I thank God for those trained to give that aid, praying over them and those they’re rushing to help.

There are more, but you get the point.  I tend to live a life of gratitude.

I’ve met nobody who likes life’s hard places; I watched my parents weather their share, and wasn’t looking forward to any such encounters.  Yet tough situations create strong people.

I grew up strong, muscular and willing to work hard.  Prior to my physical Waterloo, I was a solid six feet tall, weighing in at 250.  Now?  five feet, ten inches (if I stretch), and I eat almost constantly to maintain a svelte, skinny-butted 170.

In spite of all that, I’m a strong people.  Stronger and tougher than ever.  I wouldn’t have been as strong, had God not customized and personalized some things laid out before me I wasn’t sure at the time I’d survive.  Whether matters of heart, mind, or body, they weren’t intended to be subtle.

They hurt.

Because they hurt, I’m a bigger, tougher, stronger man, husband, and dad – and a more useful friend.

Therefore, I’m most thankful for that last item.  It is making me more of the man God’s had in mind to make of me.

 

© D. Dean Boone, October 2018

Categories: Encouragement, Inspirational, Wisdom | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

2nd Cup of Coffee, 3 October 2018 – COFFEEOLOGY #5: TAKE TIME TO STOP & SMELL THE COFFEE

It’s possible to spend so much time comparing your perceived lack with others’ perceived luxury your own blessings are lost on you.

God’s blessings are a luxury to you.  You’re so used to them they don’t seem like it.  They sometimes show up on your spirit’s doorstep costumed like just another gaggle of neighborhood challenges, holding their bags out.  This creates a negative-tinged attitude that, if unchecked, colors your entire day.

How to keep that from happening?  Slow down.  Back away from the intensity with which you’re making your TO-DO list become your TA-DAHHHH! list in the shortest amount of time.

Three employees of the same company happened to be seated at the same table while eating their lunch.  Two were in an animated discussion over their best elapsed times getting to work.  One said, “Man, I shaved 6 more seconds off my all-time best by coming this different route!  I’m jazzed!”  He nodded as his companion admired him with a well-modulated “Dude.”  Glancing at his iPhone, the first one suddenly jumped up, wrapping the last couple of bites up and bolting.  “Gotta get back to it!” wafted back over the shoulder of his drab-green hoodie.

The companion glanced over at their lunch buddy, a Chinese man who’d been silent throughout the others’ spirited competitiveness.  “Not bad, huh?  A whole 6 seconds?”

The quiet man finished chewing his food, sipped some iced tea and swallowed, clearing his throat.  “And what significant thing shall we do with those added 6 seconds?”

Hurrying becomes a habit.

Schooling oneself to stobbut is a good one with which to replace it.

Often, the result is that you actually get as much accomplished while relaxed as you would have otherwise.  The difference is that the former is relatively stress-free, while the latter only seems to generate more.

This is an intentional thing.  You must stop and smell the coffee on purpose.  We’ve stamped our normal way of life with the imprimatur of accelerated heart rates and ulcers.  This is a dumb way to live.

To take or make time to STOP & SMELL THE COFFEE . . .

~ Stand up straight, stretch, and take a few deep breaths.

~ Think through what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and if it’s necessary.

~ If necessary, ask yourself if there’s another, more pleasant way to make it happen.

~ If unnecessary, stop.  Be unordinary.  Resist the urge to fill that space with an equally stressful task.

~ Call a friend.  Chances are they can use the break, too.  And, yes.  Have coffee.

~ Take a walk.  Greet all with a gentle smile.  Read a chapter.  Read another one.

~ Whatever relaxes you, do that.

The more you love someone else, the easier it is to defer to their likes and dislikes.  Soon, you catch yourself ‘relaxing’ by doing their favorite things, not yours.  This generates more stress, though subtle.  You have permission to do your favorite relaxing things.  Be honest about what they are, especially if those you love don’t see anything relaxing in your choices.  Let them enjoy theirs.  You enjoy yours.  This is restful for you both.  You might even find mutual satisfaction in the differentness.  This is especially true if you have little in common.

I find value in this, and rarely suggest something I myself have not done.  These posts generally publish on Mondays.  This, you’ve noted, is Thursday.  I am an Intuitive as well as a recovering perfectionist, with a dash of OCD tossed in for flavor.  To not get this done Monday defies my sense of order.

I waited until this morning to finish this because I’ve been doing the very things I just suggested to you.  Part of my ‘Now’ includes periodic dehydration, which takes days to treat.  I don’t do my best writing when dealing with that.

So I stopped.  I’m more relaxed now, and upon re-engaging this post this morning, I promptly scrapped part of what I’d been trying to force through my tired, confused brain.  It’s my wish the wait’s been worth it for you.

And thus endeth COFFEEOLOGY.

 

Coffee?

© D. Dean Boone, October 2018

 

Categories: Encouragement, Inspirational, Wisdom | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Saturday 2nd Cup, 9/29/18: THE BREAD IN THE PLAIN WRAPPER

I have a rule.  If you have to wear a ridiculous, garish costume and yell at me, I have zero interest in your product.

We’ve all known people who overdress while underperforming.  Some are ‘faking it until they make it’.  Some are talented, but trying to ‘make it’ in an area not suited for them.  And some have watched others get by that way, and decided to copy looking like something special instead of becoming something special.

When breakfast came, the wheat bread came with it.  Unassuming.  Just bread.  It accompanied corned beef hash and eggs which was colorful, tastefully presented, and mouthwateringly fragrant.  Just bread, one of the two sides.

Peach jelly, naturally.  I’ve always loved peaches in most any form.  I noticed the texture of the bread as I spread the jelly, so I took a big bite.  Then I took another.  Couldn’t help myself, and was hoping I didn’t get violently ill since I hadn’t yet asked the blessing.  I sat there staring at the remainder of that half-slice.  It was good.

“Everything taste all right?”

“Oh, yeah!  This bread – can you tell me where you get it?”  She could not; she didn’t know.

“It comes on the resupply truck with everything else.”

“I’d like to find out if possible because it’s—”  She interrupted me, saying she, too, loved the taste and texture of that wheat bread.  “But I’ve looked.  All our other breads are labeled.  Not this.  It comes in a clear, plain wrapper so there’s no way of knowing who made it or where we got it.  But I know it’s great bread, and I love it!”

It took me a few seconds, thoughtfully chewing and sipping the rich, hot coffee, for the application to begin scrolling…

  • Jesus:  “I AM the Bread of life.”  He, too, came in a plain wrapper.  So plain, in fact, that Isaiah prophetically said there’d be – was – nothing outstanding or noticeable about His wrapper.  But the living Bread inside?  No one ever encountering Him went away the same.

You’ve been dazzled by some fantastic packaging.  Bamboozled by bluster.  Snookered by smooooooth into spending good money, giving support, or even surrendering your love for an inferior product or service.

Here’s the sad part.  If a sorry product, you won’t ever again buy it, nor trust the one pawning it off on you.  That’s not all.  That person’s entire company will now be suspect in your eyes.  The same principle holds true for your supporting  a cause, or giving your heart to another.  If the glitzy wrapper promised more than what was inside had to offer, you’ll not be as willing to support any other cause.  And in the matter of giving your heart?  Those wounds heal slowly.  You may never totally trust your love to another again.

All because of great packaging that never delivered.

Far better it is to live in a “plain” wrapper.  Be content to be transparent, letting all around you see Christ through you.

Make sure what’s inside your wrapper makes anything on it – or not – unimportant because what’s inside is so wonderful.  Let your daily living do all the advertising.  It won’t be hard for those around you to know Who’s responsible for the texture and taste, if you will, of the real person inside your wrapper.

That bread is nothing short of amazing.  As a side, it really sets off any dish with which it’s partnered.

Be like that bread.

© D. Dean Boone, September 2018

 

Categories: Common Sense, Encouragement, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

A Granger Story ~ 2nd Cup of Coffee for 9/24/18: COFFEEOLOGY #4 ~ TAKE LIFE 1 CUP AT A TIME

The most favorite coffee mug you own, even brim-full, still only holds a single cup.

I sat watching the sentence.  It didn’t try to escape the page of the writing pad.  It never even moved.  I thoughtfully sipped from my big moss-green THANKFUL mug, as I mentally rearranged the words yet again, wondering as all writers do if there’s a more effective way to say it.

Probably is.  I knew first drafts of anything can always be improved.  I knew if I kept refining it the sentence would really pop in a reader’s mind.  I knew my freshly-poured cup of joe was setting there getting cold.

Will it be more meaningful after the seventh change?

Probably not.  After four or five rewrites, an experienced writer has likely squoze out of that word combo everything usable.

I sat back, musing.

 

Fall had officially arrived on the calendar; yet it had begun weeks before in my heart.  I’d been up as usual, showering and dressing before much of the rest of the world was awake.  These crisp Fall mornings, though, gave me all the excuse I needed.  Time to break out the faded Lee Premiums and tails-out soft flannel shirts with sleeves at half-roll.  This morning’s is a gray/white/barn-red plaid.  And the minute I sat down at my desk, my shoes came off.  Is there anything that’s more satisfying and comfortable this time of year than broke-in jeans, butter-soft flannel shirts, and sock feet?

I’ve always loved the Fall and Winter seasons, enjoying from my very core the shifting palette of Creation’s colors.  Decorations, even lights begin to emerge in homes, yards, and in businesses.  My nose perks up at the scent of late summer hotdogs and burgers being slowly overlaid with the comforting, reassuring headiness of fireplaces extending smoky hands up in praise of Autumn’s unparalleled and breathtaking beauty.

 

I went over to the coffeemaker and refilled my cup.  Halfway back, I reversed course and added cream and sugar.  Huh.  Must’ve been thinking about an old friend who used to chide me about doing that.  Stirring it well, I popped it in the microwave to reheat it.  I’m aware snooty Starbuck’s types are horrified at such, but I never waste good coffee.  And this ain’t Starbuck’s.  My present cup’s been known to say a dismissive “Haddy” to the one forgotten in the ‘wave.

Seated again, I revisited the sentence:


The most favorite coffee mug you own, even brim-full, still only holds a single cup.


I’d been spending five weeks embellishing a set of sayings entitled, COFFEEOLOGY.  This week’s was number four, Take Life One Cup At A Time.  I’d been thinking about what that means and what it looks like in my mirror.  What does it mean to take life one cu—

Oh, happih–day-yay!  Oh, happeh–day . . . Woah, happih–DAY-hay!  Oh, happeh–daaay . . .”  It took me a few seconds to sift through my phone’s ringtones I’d set for friends who rated one.  Not all do.  You get that.  Let’s see…

Trixie.  Jimmie’s Diner.  I picked my phone up and clicked it on as I was being taught how to watch and pray.

“I remember when phones just rang, and we actually had to get up and go to wherever they were.  How are you, Trixie?  Are you living rejoicing every day?”

There was a split second of that kind of shocked silence, then her throaty contralto laugh boomed across my phone’s tiny speaker.  I mean it tried to.  Smart phones don’t exactly ‘boom’, do they?  I figured she’d be amused.  I’m an amusing guy.  I even autoamuse from time to time.  Who needs an audience when one is this hilarious?

“Granger, this is why I love havin’ ya’ll around.  You always got somethin’ encouragin’ ta tayull somebodeh.”

Trixie isn’t her real name.  Jimmie’s is a 50’s theme diner where the women servers wear poodle skirts, bobby socks, big hair and scarves; and the men wear black slacks, white shirts, black bowties, and soda jerk hats.  Each franchise has the same collection of names, so this ‘Trixie’ or ‘Bobbie Sue’ won’t be the same person across the city.  And though Trixie right now sounds like the daughter of a hard-working black mechanic and school teacher, this ‘Trixie’ has earned degrees and a fearless demeanor that cows wolverines.  She rarely calls me, so I waited.  I’m good at that.

I’m good at that, too.  Waiting and listening . . .

“Listen, Granger, I’m on break, so I’ll get to it.  When somebody feels like they got to end a relationship, why does one or the other feel like they got to come up with a reason to hate the one they’re cutting loose to justify it?”

I knew my silence as I absorbed her question wouldn’t bother her.  We’d sat and talked before.  She knew my habit when listening is to think it through and only then probe with questions to further clarify.  I sat brooding over my java for a few more seconds.

“If I’m getting you, you want to know why it feels necessary to create dislike, gossip, or hatred in order to make breaking up feel better.”  She said yes.

“The only reason I’ve been able to think of is they want to recruit supporters or a cheering section, if you will, to boost their decision in their own eyes.  If it’s possible to blacken the reputation of their former friend, then it makes the other former partner feel righteous in their choice.”

Trixie (slower and softer):  “What if there’s nothing to hate?  You’ve seen this explosion of pop-psych on Facebook that’s always sayin’ stuff like IF THEY DON’T SEE YOUR TRUE WORTH, UNLOAD THEM AND WALK AWAY.  THEY AREN’T WORTH YOUR TIME.  You’ve seen those, right?”  Suddenly it triggered in my spirit.

“Trixie, this isn’t hypothetical, is it?”  I could hear her trying to keep from breaking down.

“No.  You want to know what I hate?  I HATE those STUPID memes, because they don’t speak for me at all.  The only ones that do are those that talk about YOU KNOW IT’S REAL LOVE WHEN ALL YOU WANT IS FOR THE OTHER ONE TO BE HAPPY AND FULFILLED IN LIFE, EVEN IF THAT MEANS WITH SOMEONE ELSE.”

“That where you are?”  She said it is.  I asked her if she still read after me, and she indicated she does – and even poked me again for not being faster with the books I’m working on.

“Okay.  Listen, when you called, I’d been sitting and wondering how to apply today’s little bit of Coffeeology.  You just gave me a great prompt.  Let me get back to that so you can read it on your next break.  In the meantime, let me give you the title:  TAKE LIFE ONE CUP AT A TIME.  Do you mind waiting to read my response?”

She said that worked for her, that she needed to get back on the clock, but would be thinking about what I’d said, and what the title implies.  I had no doubt she would.

Here, then, are my thoughts in response to Trixie’s call, using COFFEEOLOGY:  TAKE LIFE 1 CUP AT A TIME as a springboard.

You’d look a little silly drinking out of two cups of coffee at the same time.  The same is true about holding a deep, abiding love for two people at the same time.

Human relationships can survive anything up to and sometimes including rejection and loss of trust, although the latter creates very real permanent scars that never quite heal.  Whether we’re talking about a strong, decades-long friendship, or a profound, longstanding love, both can and have survived even when dealing with physical distance and the general busyness and business of daily living.

Certainly, if one or the other has consciously damaged that relationship, there’s ample reason for you to sever it in anger and sorrow, and walk away.  There are always plenty of people sitting on the sidelines who’ll fill your ears with anything you want to hear about how lousy ‘they’ are, and how right you are in getting away from them.

And what about that relationship where you both knew it was realer than real (thank you, Dr. Seuss) and truer than true, but came to a realization God had different things in mind?  I began freewriting as I pondered this.

 

“Ever had God plunk someone you believed lost to you right before you and relight your pilot?  To learn you, confide in you and stick by you in a way no other has?  Has God brought you close, closer, closest ~ and then have them removed from your life as if never there?  Sometimes it crushes to the point you just erase all messages, delete all numbers, square your shoulders, and move on.  But that doesn’t work.  Your mind will play tricks like, “Well, maybe it’s just that the timing’s not right, right now.”

 

“Others crowd around, congratulating you with things like, “He/she never was right for you, anyway.”  You know the drill.  Those kind are always around, always gleeful to tear someone else down – yet never realizing how much that person meant to you.  Hating them – manufacturing a reason to push them away – is not your only option.  In fact, if you’re a Christian, you might want to pay attention to this.

 

“You don’t have to forget who and what that person was to you.  You can’t.  If there was love involved, and mutual esteem?  If you shared in faith and helped build one another’s personal walk with God?  Terrific!  Celebrate it, don’t hate it.  Consider how you both grew through all that.  Maybe this wasn’t primarily about you; but God was using you to do something vital in their life ~ to help them punch on through some life experiences that had gotten them stuck.  Believe it or not, they’ll never forget who you were to them, either.  Yet you must accept they aren’t that person to you any more.  What you thought was God’s hand at work in both your lives most certainly was, but not in the ways you thought.  What you believed to be a ‘forever’ thing was not.  God knew they needed someone unique and personally special to come alongside them, giving them the time, the nonjudgmental ear, and the unconditional love to help them get beyond what had happened to them.

 

“He brought them you.  You gave it and them your best.  Now they’ve healed and have moved on with their life.  Noble?  Tragic?  Only if you let it get you stuck there.  God needed someone He could trust to strengthen, listen to, and care for them without reservation or demands, and He chose you.  You bet it hurts.  Stings like fire.  That’s why God can’t trust just anybody with that kind of mission.  That’s why the two suggestions I’ll offer you help.  Few have the grit in their spirit to handle this without sulking and losing spiritual ground.

 

“Do you remember Jesus saying, “I will never leave you or forsake you”?  Physically, He did.  Yet we all know what it’s like, when feeling so alone, to have the warmth of His grace lovingly laid in your soul’s lap like a half-grown kitten.  We all know while Jesus physically is no longer here, His Presence, and His powerful, undeniable love has gone nowhere.  I think a better meme to think about is the one which reads, “Never leave someone who touches your soul more than your body.”

 

“I suggest two things to help you not merely survive the loss of someone that special to you, but to overcome and thrive because of sharing their love, enduring friendship and support.  First, you’ll both need to gently, lovingly lay those shared experiences to rest in God’s arms, then walk on into His newest adventure for you both.  Next, pursue the things you love doing, for God placed that in your heart.  Do them so well that people can’t help but notice you and see Him at work in and through you.

 

“This way, every time you remember that special person, whether a month, a year, or a decade later, your heart will flood with great memories of him or her; and your spirit will be buoyant with prayerful and loving care toward them.  That, I believe, is most pleasing to God in any relationship.  The Adversary is into discord and hatred.  God is The Champion of Love.”

 

In other words, do your moving on with faith-filled, forward-seeing purpose.  Find the niche God’s uniquely formed just for you ~ and get after it.  To follow our title, empty that cup, rinse it out, and then let God fill it with a brand-new, fresh cup full of His grace.

To all the Trixies out there?  I pray this helps.  I pray you keep growing through whatever loss you’re experiencing, turning it into fantastic gain.  And I’ll be praying for God to fill your rinsed-out cup to overflowing with everything He’s been waiting to serve you.

So.  There you go:  Coffeeology #4: Take Life 1 Cup At A Time.

Loving you,

Dan

© D. Dean Boone, September 2018

Categories: Encouragement, Tell-A-Story-Make-A-Point, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

2nd Cup of Coffee, 9/18/18: COFFEEOLOGY #3: BETTER LATTE THAN NEVER

Do NOT let all the colors fade to gray just because your hair does.

Today’s title is a whimsical, coffee-flavored play on words.  The content is a matter of life and premature death.  I hope by the time you see “Loving you” at the close of this post, you’ll understand this is no hyperbole.

I was born on my mother’s 43rd birthday.  Coming up through the grades and into high school, I always felt awkward when at a game or concert or play someone would point to my parents and ask, “Is that your grandparents?”  Add to that the irritating tendency of my elder siblings to ‘parent’ me along with my own nieces & nephews, and you’ve a good idea why I felt somehow offset in Time, unsure of where I fit.

I was never ‘Dan’ to them.  Y’know, like a brother?  I was always ‘Danny’, and often ‘Little Danny’.  I hated that nickname.  Whenever I hear it, my mind is mugged by early memories it serves absolutely zero purpose to mention here.  In ten days I turn 66, and there are still only a couple of people on the planet who can call me that.

You might be excused, then, if you surmise by this point in my life that I’m socially misshapen, a barely-functioning maladroit in the company of other normal people.  The younger Dan would’ve likely said something like, “Well, if that’s what you think, then I probably am.”  After all, I’m an introvert, and was an insecure one.  The wiser of you know that doesn’t mean I’m a pushover and have nothing to say.  It just means I hadn’t yet learned how to articulate my innermost feelings, nor had I found anyone I felt would listen to them. 

Then God said, “Write.”  This blog reflects what a difference both He and His gift have made in my life.

These things are here to make a point.  Some of you know I’ve overcome that quite nicely, thanks.  The point is, no matter what lies behind you, the way things are for you only remains that way until you decide it no longer will.  Enter today’s third COFFEEOLOGY installment, “BETTER LATTE THAN NEVER.”  What follows are some jewels I’ve gleaned from years of observing others, and recording my thoughts.

So–what things do I, a gray-haired great-grandpa, have to write to my brother and sister gray-hairs who were born back in the 50s?

 

  • Fight for what and who you want.  You still may not win, but you’ll be wiser and tougher for your next adventure.  This thing isn’t over until we appear on Heaven’s porch.  I’ve heard way too many 50-year-olds moaning, “I’m too old . . .”  I always ask, “All things being equal, how much longer do you expect to live?”  The usual answer is 20-30 more years.  You know what?  That’s another entire career!  Go find something you’ve always wanted to do, and get after it!  Remember the contract I’ve always had with my 2nd Cup readers:  to lift, encourage, edify, and challenge to personal and spiritual excellence.  ‘Fight’ here means to make your desires and dreams clear, to be stubbornly persistent until it’s plain something or someone else is in God’s plan for you.

 

  • Refuse to use age or physical disability as any kind of excuse.  I deal with both. The Carthaginian statesman and general Hannibal once said when faced with what seemed an insurmountable task, “We’ll either find a way or make one.” See, I grew up with parents who had lived through America’s Great Depression.  I watched them either come up with a way to improve things, or make do with what we had until we could do better.  It’s why I’ve always worked to have a cheery, positive outlook no matter what . . . I had excellent examples who at the time I never appreciated.  Strong people rarely have had an easy past.  I love the battle cry of the “old people” who won’t accept it can’t be done:  “NEXT!” 

 

  • Make sure what you’re doing right now is getting you closer to where you want to be, and what you want to be doing, tomorrow.  Do it now.  At our ages, sometimes ‘latte’ really does become ‘never’.  I’ve genetic longevity on both sides of my family, so even having cheated death at least 3 times I expect to live well into my 90s, if not beyond.  I do not, however, take anything for granted.  As an experienced hospital chaplain, I know better.  Even if you’re forcing yourself to get adequate rest for what you’ve planned tomorrow, be purposeful about it.  Be being busy. When you first see God, let His opening question be, “So, who do you suppose will finish that task?”  

 

  • Don’t be afraid of losing people.  Be afraid of losing yourself, compromising your self-respect, by trying to please everyone around you.  Life’s like an elevator.  Sometimes you need to stop long enough to let some people off.  This is tough.  Yet as we age, we all become less willing to sacrifice our own peace of mind and well-being by mashing ‘Like‘ for people we either don’t know or would just as soon not.  Our circle of close friendships tightens.  To lose one of those is a serious thing ~ but it happens.  Reasons rarely matter:  all you know is they’re gone, there’s an unpatchable hole in your heart, and it’s time to move on.  Grayhairs like us can’t go find lifelong friends like them.  After all, it takes a lifetime to make those.  Appreciate what you have before it turns into what you once had.

  • Never compromise your personal standards and convictions out of convenience.  Let God work.  This can be tough.  The older we get, the more we notice Time passing.  To be young and alone leaves a few options.  To be older and alone can be as bleak as the windblasted top of a New Mexico mesa.  There’s a sobering difference between sitting in your recliner and listening to the breathing of someone else in your home, even if you don’t get along; and sitting in that same recliner with the only other sound the tocking of the carved wood grandfather clock with the chipped face, hanging in the next room by the entry door they’ll never again walk through.  Sometimes the right path isn’t the easiest one; and sometimes it’s like trying to trim the toenails of a T-Rex.  Age and loneliness is not a good trade for letting down your guard.  God’s never failed to honor those who honor Him.  He’s not about to start now. 

  • Take every opportunity to have fun.  Fun never asks how old you are.  Never let what you’re unable to do get tangled up with what you can do.  I mean, we’re all mature until somebody breaks out the bubble wrap ~ right?  Watching senior adults laughing it up and having a great time together is the greatest way I know to show their children and grandchildren it can (and should!) be done.

 

  • Walk WITH the Light, not against it.  This one needs no explanation.  We’re not little kids.  Right?

  • Always be excited about the journey ahead of you!  Almost every successful person begins and carries on with two beliefs:  My future can be better than the present; and I have the power to make it that way.  Don’t let aging or physical limitations talk you out of your dreams, for they’ll live on long after you’ve left here.  They’ll just shift from Earthside to Home.  As long as you’re here, God’s got something powerful, something wonderfully-fulfilling for you to be doing.  Yeah–you!  Get into the habit now of always having a mischievous spring in your step when you emerge from life’s backstage – even if a few things hurt and one or two other of your options have, um, voided your warranty.

I’d personally rather be completely exhausted from the hard times and stretching circumstances that breed success, than be well-rested from achieving nothing.  Those of you who know me best understand I deal with this, too, on a basis so regular it’s pretty much a part of my ‘now’.

There you have it, then:  the third in this five-part series on COFFEEOLOGY:  BETTER LATTE THAN NEVERTo all my fellow gray-hairs who arise each morning with the grit and determination to keep overcoming and provide a steady, reasonably-mature influence over those coming behind?  I’m grateful to you.  Observing you, knowing you makes me even more empowered and intent on moving ahead with my eyes up and to the front. 

All those jokes about youth and exuberance being no match for old age and treachery?  You make me smile, because being around you makes me even more of a believer.

Thank you for your part in my journey. 

Thank you for allowing me to be a part of yours.

Until God says otherwise, we both have a l-o-n-g way to go.  Let’s see how much we can get accomplished.

Loving you,

Dan

© D. Dean Boone, September 2018 

 

Categories: Common Sense, Inspirational, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

2nd Cup of Coffee, 9/10/18: COFFEEOLOGY – STAY GROUNDED

Riding the breeze, the slip of paper whisked within inches of Granger’s nose, causing him to flinch.

I know what you’re thinking.  “Bet he slopped a little of his coffee, too, huh?”  You think you’re so-o-o smart…

He frowned as he stooped to pick it up, then smiled at himself, huffing through his nose as he looked around for something to set his coffee cup on.  He needed to rub where the hot Kona blend said GOOD MORNING to his thumb.  Possibilities didn’t exactly abound.  Browning Drive was on his left, a vacant, weed-choked field to his right, with an abandoned factory over behind it.

A cement-filled metal post with a steel ring welded at the top stood next to a driveway entrance to nowhere.  It marked where an access road must have led to parking for the old factory, and Granger’s somewhat-OCD mind made his eyes flick to the right to find the scarred, yellow-and-rust post’s mate.

At first he saw nothing.  Setting his cream-colored coffee mug atop the flat top of the remaining post, Granger stepped over to the other side of the cracked and crumbling cement driveway entrance.  There it was.  Well, at least the base of the other post was still firmly stuck in the concrete with five or six inches of the metal casing protruding above ground.

Musing, he retrieved his coffee then retraced his steps.  He’d been sitting through two Pandora ads, his practical side fencing with his creative side in choosing how to address the second in a “Coffeeology” series for his blog.  Frustrated, he’d grabbed his cup, refilled it, and just got out of the house.  Taking a walk often jiggles my creative juices.  I won’t be gone long, and don’ need no steeenkeeng travel mug.

Standing there, staring down at the bottom of that old broken post, the ideas began to flow.  A city bus slowed, the driver wondering what the silver-haired gent in the red-and-black checked down vest was doing, staring at seemingly nothing but weeds.  Rousing from his reverie, Granger glanced up, grinned and waved, and abruptly turned to head back to his computer.

Unlocking and re-entering his home office, he brushed past Biff, who long since had grown used to his human’s weird comings and goings.  Drawing in a noisy, long, dismissive breath, the tawny square-nozzled shar pei expelled it in a sudden, jowl-flapping rush.  Granger stopped just long enough to dump the last of his cold coffee and replace it.  He then headed into his office, settled down before his trusty laptop and began once again to type . . .

“COFFEEOLOGY #2:  STAY GROUNDED

“Change, the passing of Time, is a part of life.  Experiences flush like quail, seeming to be ‘forever’ things before they, too, diminish and eventually disappear in the reality and necessity of Now.  If one ties to the experiences themselves, disappointment and even grief often follows.

“Let me explain.

“I was walking this morning.  Along the sidewalk I followed, there was a city street on my left and a vacant, weed-overgrown field once a factory parking lot on my right.  I noticed a concrete driveway entrance to the old lot, marked on the left side by an old metal post that looked like it once held a chain.  I did what you’d do:  I glanced over to see where the other one was.

“It wasn’t.  Well, the noticeable, above-ground part wasn’t.  When I walked over to look closer, I could see the bottom of that old post.  It was still firmly set in the concrete base where it’d originally been placed.  There was even five or six inches of the metal post sticking up to show me where it had been.  At some point, a truck had misjudged the entrance’s clearance and run into the right-hand post, breaking it off.  The foundation was right where it should have been; but the surface part was gone.

“Think about the last time you revisited somewhere you once lived as a kid.  Remember how many times you either thought or said out loud, “I remember what used to be there”?

“Life’s like that.  I know you remember the story we learned in Sunday School about the guy who built his house on sand.  Hey.  All those folks in Charleston and along the east coast prepping for Florence can tell you:  even building on the strongest possible foundations, sand just doesn’t cut it when storms hit.

“I’m 66 in 20 more days.  Looking back, I can see a lot of things and people that have been forever changed.  I can remember, sometimes even see where they were, because the foundations remain – unless someone came along and tore them up to build someone or something else.

“Today’s bit of Coffeeology is some of God’s finest advice:  STAY GROUNDED.  By all means, soar in response to the dreams He’s placed within you.  Imagine!  Defy the Mamas and The Papas:  don’t merely dream a little dream.  Dream a big one!  Make it worthy of the Time you invest in it, and let it’s scope and reach scare you a little!  Let it stretch you and draw you out of who and what you’ve been, into who and what God’s thrilled to make of you!

“Just stay grounded as you do.  A solid piece of Scripture comes to mind:  “. . . for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” 2 Timothy 1:7 Things and people can look pretty strong and impressive on the surface.  They can even be intimidating.  I’ve found if I’m ‘surfing’ through my day, observing it all from my surface vantage point, it’s easy to mistake fluff and froth for substance.  It’s easy to be troubled, saddened, even fearful because of the way everything looks.

“Staying grounded means to take the second or third look.  To check under the hood.  To read a little fine print.  To follow your gut and take nothing for granted.  To be willing to listen to wise counsel and apt advice.

Stay grounded, my friends.  STAY GROUNDED.”

Granger sat back, idly ruffling his hand through the thick ruff of Biff’s neck where he’d conveniently positioned it beside the desk chair.  That’s when he remembered the crumpled bit of paper that had started it all by barely grazing his nose.

Reaching into the pocket of his down vest, he pulled it out.  It read, “I don’t know what the hell my heart beats for, but it isn’t you.  Not any more.”  Granger scanned it.  It was written in a teen’s feminine scrawl, on a torn piece of notebook paper.

He sat back in his chair, sipped some coffee, and thought about some of his own teenage crushes.  Gently smiling at the memories and how desperately foolish he’d been.  He mulled over how, in the age of Facebook and Twitter, this girl resorted to a medium used by her grandparents to broadcast her disgust at the sub-par young male in question.  Granger sat quietly for a few moments, remembering his own solemn teenage attempts to be a gentleman while yet wanting to make his intentions and attentions known.  He remembered every girl he’d been sweet on, the passing interests and the ones that went ‘PING’ right down to his heart’s basement . . .

He glanced back at the offending note.  Huh.  Unsigned.  I guess the two of them knew whose writing it was.  Well, whoever you are, my young unknowns, the sooner you learn to stay grounded, the better things will go for you.  I wish you both long life, a real love, and that you find God while you’re young.

Sighing, Granger recrumpled the note, tossing it into his garbage can.  He then did something he’d been doing for decades:  he stopped everything else he’d been doing, and prayed for the young man and young woman into whose lives he’d been invited by a Fall gust.

© D. Dean Boone, September 2018

 

 

 

Categories: Common Sense, Tell-A-Story-Make-A-Point, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

2nd Cup of Coffee, 9/6/18: WHAT’S THIS DOING HAIR? or A BRIDGE TOO FUR

A MESSAGE TO OUR PETS

 Dear Furballs and Fuzzfaces,

The dishes with the paw prints, often strangely found in the middle of the kitchen floor, are yours and contain your food. The other dishes are mine and contain my food. Please note, placing a paw print in the middle of my plate of food does not stake a claim for it becoming your food and dish, nor do I find that aesthetically pleasing in the slightest.  Sitting and staring wistfully at me with doggy eyes, or using your tail as a furry napkin while I’m attempting to eat will never alter that fact.

The stairway was not designed by NASCAR and is not a racetrack.  There are only two directions available:  up or down.  Beating me to the bottom is not the object. Tripping me doesn’t help because I fall faster than you can run.

I cannot buy anything bigger than a king-sized bed. I am very sorry about this. Do not think I will continue sleeping on the couch to ensure your comfort. Dogs and cats can actually curl up in a ball when they sleep, while humans cannot. It is not necessary to sleep perpendicular to each other stretched out to the fullest extent possible. I also know that sticking tails straight out and having tongues hanging out the other end to maximize space is nothing but pet-ty sarcasm. I can assure you, all such efforts are lost on me.  The more exhausted I am, the less amusing it is.

For the last time, there is not a secret exit from the bathroom. If by some miracle I beat you there and manage to get the door shut, it is not necessary to claw, whine, meow, try to turn the knob or get your paw under the edge and try to pull the door open.  Sitting just beyond the door and shaking your jowls, jingling your collar in the process, to remind me of your vigilance is neither appreciated nor necessary.  I must exit through the same door I entered.  I have been using the bathroom by myself for years – canine or feline attendance is not mandatory. 

That is all.

Regards,

Your Owner   (credit to Mikeysfunnies.com, with editorial frosting)

© D. Dean Boone, September 2018

Categories: Humor - Lighten Up | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

2nd Cup of Coffee, 9/4/18: COFFEEOLOGY ~ ESPRESSO YOURSELF

Words are like keys. If you choose the right ones, they can open any heart and shut any mouth.

Ever sat in one of your favorite coffee shops or restaurants, minding your own business?  Perhaps enjoying a great cup of joe and reading, or sitting with a blank notepad while freethinking?  Maybe even staring off into Middle Space, daydreaming?

You know how frustrating it is when the inevitable happens:  a conversation from an adjoining table mugs your pleasant peace of mind, causing you to want to offer in return a piece of yours.  And isn’t it odd?  That conversation isn’t low-keyed or gentle.  The volume seems to bully the sacred airspace encircling your spirit, all but forcing its attention on you like that oily-haired neighbor’s teenage Legend-In-His-Own-Mind constantly leering at anything passing by with a remote resemblance to feminine gender.

Your ears sharpen.  Something one of them says reminds you of a similar experience.  At the very least, one or the other is constantly talking over the other, indulging in the control-driven, self-absorbed habit of finishing (or trying to finish) the other’s sentences.

Or one resorts to the eventual reserve of all such orations:  he or she gets dirty.  Crudely, intentionally coarse.  Filthy.  Profane.  Every third or fourth word refers to this or that sex act.  Humorous derision morphs into stinky, ugly epithets that once earned at least a fast smack in the mouth, and at most being decked and left to awaken later.

Your ears are rose-tinged and looking and perhaps even sounding a little like those funny-looking steam release valves on a pressure cooker.  You’re locked and loaded, fully prepped to read to the offenders from The Book.

Necessary?  Yes.  Yet in the right way.

This morning’s news cycle reveals our cherished bastions of American university training are allowing students to cite their refusal to read literary classics because they were written by Caucasian old white men.  Chaucer.  Spenser.  Shakespeare.  Wordsworth.  Longfellow.  Forget the great thinkers and orators of Greece and Rome.  Proclaiming freedom from racism, these ‘students’ have become the most virulent strain of racist imaginable.  Proclaiming themselves the Universal center, they proudly strut before cameras and mics during class time, telling in slangish, putridly profane terms, how anyone unlike them cannot have any value and whose words will be ignored and shouted down while physically degrading any who dare to present a divergent view.

In other words, liberal lightweights posing as professors, themselves sounding more like strident, egoistic, jealous, vengeful 7th-graders than university educators are letting the half-grown animals take over the zoo.

And that, friend, is the smelly petrie dish from which the conversationalists at the next table have been grown.

Yes.  Espresso yourself.  Just do it with wisdom and patience, for you will be speaking in proper English when they’ll be listening through a filter of the bastardized mishmash of Americanese passing for communication in their world.

If you dare, say something like, “Excuse me, but it was difficult not to overhear your discussion.  May I join you for a few moments, and would you like a refill?”  They’re going to do owl-eyes, for they’ve already ID’d you as ‘One Of Those’.  But who turns down a free latte?  There’s a sucker born every minute, right?

You’ll be tempted to sink into the rhetorical slag and cloying, greenish bayou of their level of speech.

Don’t.

You’ll be tempted to raise your voice from Voice of Reason to T-Rex Breath to attempt to keep up with them.

Don’t.  If necessary, gently disengage with, “I’m sorry.  I had the impression you were interested in an honest dialog.  My bad.  Please excuse me – enjoy your coffee.”  Then leave, even if one calls after you.  Tossing pearls and all that.  The next time one of them happens across you, or someone like you, they’ll be more apt to listen more than talk.

They need to hear someone who looks a lot like them articulate exactly what you believe and why you believe it, without calling them names or calling into question their ancestry.  They need to observe a humanoid biped resembling them both, speaking coherently while presenting a differing point of view – and doing so while honoring their viewpoints and being willing to listen well enough to repeat those points back to them.

It is not necessary for us to agree.  It is absolutely vital we make the effort and take time to listen to each other long enough to discern the real feelings from regurgitated talking points – and sufficiently enough to understand where lie our honest differences of policy and opinion.  It’s imperative we stop allowing individual opinions to redact Truth.

“Dan, it’s just easier to keep quiet, though, isn’t it?”

It might be immediately easier.  In the long run, you’re only delaying the inevitable, kicking the convo down the street, if you will.  You’re also continuing to feed your own reticence to take a reasoned, polite, titanium-backboned stand for Being Decent In Public 101.  They need to see and hear that somewhere, for they certainly are not getting it in return for the bloated, obscene amounts of money they (or someone) will have paid for their ‘education’.

I often free-write.  It’s amazing what unrolls from my thoughts that have had all night to run free.  Yeah.  Free Range Ideas.  I’m adding this from a couple of weeks ago to show how face-scrunching and irritating it is to be enjoying great coffee and a great book and have someone’s nasally-resonant conversation, either in person or on the phone, jaggedly intrude.

“. . . Things come tromping through the memory like unplanned-for backwoods in-laws, plopping their baggage down in the middle of your peace in a roiling, sneezy cloud of dust.” 

Yeah.  You’ve had it happen.  Somebody standing behind you in Walmart, prodding your backside and Achilles tendon with their cart, oblivious to Earth as they raucously blab with someone named Arch in Tallahassee.  St. Louis would at least make a little sense. 

Take a breath.  Marshal your thoughts.  Consider the times you’ve unwittingly done that to someone else.

Then do it.  Espresso yourself.

I’m just guessing here, but I suspect you’ll receive more than one grateful glance from others needing the empowerment to do the same thing.

What?  Arch?  Oh, you’ll get it.

© D. Dean Boone, September 2018

Categories: Common Sense, Encouragement, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

2nd Cup of Coffee for 8/27/18: OH, YEAH, YOU CAN TOO!

“I can’t do it.”

Granger looked up from where he was using Gorilla Superglue to reattach part of the sole of his right Skecher.  “You can’t do what?”

“I don’t have the spiritual intensity, or maturity, or, or–what’s that old word for, uh, healing?”

“You mean ‘unction’?”

“Yeah.  Stuff like that.  I guess I’m just not Godly enough to make it all work or something.”

Granger slipped a thick rubber band around the brown lace-up shoe that was one of his favorites.  He was careful not to get any of the glue on the leather, made sure the band was tight, then laid it up on a shelf to cure.  Walking over to his sink, he washed his hands, then turned and leaned against the counter as he dried his hands on the red-and-white checked kitchen towel.

“What are you trying to make work?”  Sparks shrugged, a hurt and baffled look on his rugged face.

“You know, all of it.  I’m getting along great, then something trips me up and I feel like a total flop in serving God and being a consistent Christian.  You’re always writing about being a spiritual warrior?  Well, here of late I feel mostly like a Cub Scout.  I just can’t seem to DO it so it lasts!”

Granger lifted his “NOT TODAY, SATAN” coffee mug, grimacing as he sipped now-tepid coffee.  Setting the cream and gold mug back on the counter, he eyed his younger friend.  “Of course you can’t.”  Eyeing Sparks, Granger grinned slightly at the deputy’s sudden frown.  He continued.

“None of us can by ourselves, nor were we ever intended to.  Let me share a couple of favorite Bible verses with you.”  Walking over to his mahogany dining table, Granger picked up the Bible laying there.  As he walked back, he riffled through the pages, locating what he wanted to read.

“Here we go.  The first one is found in Isaiah 54:17:

But no instrument forged against you will be allowed to hurt you,
and no voice raised to condemn you will successfully prosecute you.
It’s that simple; this is how it will be for the servants of the Eternal;
I will vindicate them. – Isaiah 54:17 The Voice (VOICE)

Granger glanced up over his readers.  “You catch that?  Who said that last statement?”

“God.”  Granger nodded.  “Lemme read you another one.”  The back of his blue-and-grey light flannel shirt scruffed as he moved to scratch his back on the counter edge.

The truth is that, although of course we lead normal human lives, the battle we are fighting is on the spiritual level.  The very weapons we use are not those of human warfare but powerful in God’s warfare for the destruction of the enemy’s strongholds.2 Corinthians 10:4, Phillips.

Granger closed the Bible and laid it beside him on the counter beside his coffee mug.

“So what’d that say was the purpose for these God-weapons?”

“Destruction.”

“Of what?”

Sparks scrinched his face as he thought.  “I think you said ‘strongholds’.”  Granger enthusiastically nodded, lifting his eyebrows.

“In other words, my LE friend, God’s flat telling you that ‘thing’ that’s defeating you that you can’t seem to whip?  Overcome?  Stomp?  IT.  AIN’T.  BIBLICAL.  Sparks, nowhere in the Bible does God say, “Well, except for THAT one, ’cause it’s too tough for Me.  Just nope.”

Collecting his helmet and gloves, the lawman stood thinking for a minute as he drained the last Kona blend from his coffee cup.  “Okay, so that means the only one causing my, my defeat or dependency on that is . . . me.”

Smiling at him and winking, Granger turned to rinse out his coffee mug.  He heard the back door quietly snick shut, a sign the young deputy sheriff was deep in thought.  He was like Granger in that way; he was unusually quiet when thinking or pondering.

Setting the coffee mug upside-down on the kitchen towel to drain, Granger took his Bible over and laid it back on the table.  Guess I’d better check how that glue’s setting up on my shoe, he thought.

© D. Dean Boone, August 2018

 

 

        

Categories: Common Sense, Encouragement, Inspirational | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

2nd Cup of Coffee, 8/11/18: THE THROWAWAY PEOPLE

The old woman in Room 9 of the geriatric ward of the small rural hospital had finally done the staff a favor and died.  When it was clear she’d never leave that room alive, her daughter and son-in-law drove in from out of town and quickly, dispassionately sifted through her accumulated junk.  It was what was left of 90+ years of life.  Those trinkets and broken this-or-that meant something to her.  Its only value to them was how much could be recycled, so they wouldn’t have to pay so much to throw it all away.

Each time she’d ask them what of hers they wanted, they’d gently tried to remind her:  “Mom, we’re not sure how to tell you this, but all this stuff that has such meaning to you?  We won’t want it, and I can guarantee Jewell won’t.  Keeping parents’ stuff was a ‘thing’ when you were young.  It’s not now.  We’re not wanting to hurt your feelings, but we really don’t want this stuff.”

On the day they got the call her mom was terminally ill, Heather and Drake never blinked.  They drove straight to the lawyer’s office whom they’d retained to handle Eunice’s final affairs, signed the papers committing her to what passed for a nursing home, picked out a few things they thought might make the ugly, plain little room’s walls a little more palatable, and took them over to the hospital.

A grandson’s high school letter off his varsity jacket . . .  the birth announcement of Shelby, the old woman’s first great-granddaughter . . .  a ratty, fray-edged and obviously handsewn pillow she’d made, half from Stan’s favorite old work shirt, and half from the dress she wore when they were married . . .  the crudely-framed picture of the house Stan built in the evenings after work, which became their first home . . .  an old, wooden-handled three-tined table fork that was from the set she’d collected in boxes of laundry soap.  Stan gave her the house as a wedding gift; she gave him a full set of flatware and plates she’d collected and saved.

Eunice.  Her name was Eunice, and Heather was her daughter and had held power of attorney for her ever since her mind began its slow, inexorable tornado-like spiral down in to complete memory loss and total confusion.  She and Grant really didn’t want to be bothered with any of it, but they were closest.  Besides, though older, Jewell would do nothing but complain.  The lawyer’s name was Evans, and the young, preoccupied doctor who briskly came in, checked her vitals for the required amount of time, then pronounced her at 0438 was Shaunessey, Joe, O.D.

The hospital staff, especially housekeeping, didn’t care.  They just knew her as The Crabby Old Lady.  They needed to get in there, clean out her meager belongings and box ’em up for Heather and Grant – as if they wanted any of them – and prep it for the next crabby old man or woman.

They’d taken everything off the wall and picked up everything else, when one thought to look in the bed stand drawer.  There was an old Bible there, with what looked like a bookmark in it.

“Will you hurry up?  Lunch here would gag a yak at the best of times, but maybe if we get to the front of the line—”

The orderly standing and holding the Bible had just opened it, curious to see what The Crabby Old Lady had marked.  Slowly, he sat down.  It wasn’t a bookmark; it was a folded sheet of legal-sized paper.  The old woman had written on it, and her thoughts were profound enough that the staff typed it up, printed it off, and distributed copies to every nurse, RNA, and orderly in the hospital.  Here is what Eunice had written.

 

Crabby Old Woman

 

What do you see, nurses?   What do you see?

What are you thinking, When you’re looking at me?

 

A crabby old woman, not very wise,

Uncertain of her routine, with faraway eyes.

Who dribbles her food and makes no reply,

When you say in a loud voice, “Well, you could at least try!”

 

Who seems not to notice the things that you do,

And forever is losing a sock or a shoe

Who, resisting or not, lets you do as you will,

With just bathing and feeding her long day to fill?

 

Is that what you’re thinking?  Is that what you see?

Then open your eyes, nurse, because you’re not looking at me.

I’ll tell you who I am as I sit here so still,

As I mutely do your bidding and I eat at your will.

 

I’m a small child of ten with a father and mother,

And brothers and sisters who laugh and love one another.

 

I’m a young girl of sixteen with wings on her feet,

Dreaming that any time now, a lover she’ll meet.

 

A bride soon at twenty, my heart gives a leap,

Remembering the vows that I’ll promise to keep.

 

I’m twenty-five now, I have young of my own,

Who need me to guide them and make them a happy home.

 

I’m now a woman of thirty, my young now grown fast,

Bound to each other with ties I pray will last.

 

At forty, my young sons have grown and are gone,

But my man’s beside me, to hold me when I mourn.

 

I’m fifty, and once more babies play around my knee,

Again we know the giggles of children, my loved one and me.

 

Dark days are upon me now, for my husband is dead,

I look at the future, and I shudder with dread.

 

For my young are all rearing young of their own,

And I’m left to think of the years and loves that I’ve known.

 

I’m now an old woman, and nature is cruel,

To make me in old age look like a fool.

 

The body, it crumbles, and grace and vigor depart,

It feels like there’s now a stone, where I once had a heart.

 

But inside this old carcass, a young girl still dwells,

And now and again, my battered heart swells.

 

I remember the joys, and I remember the pain,

And inside here, I’m loving and reliving life all over again.

 

I’m thinking of the years, all too few, gone too fast,

And accepting the stark reality that nothing can last.

 

So open your eyes, people–please, open and see:

Not just a forgetful, crabby old woman; look closer – see ME!!

 

No one from the hospital staff were asked if they’d read the poem.  There were no dry eyes.  Even the self-important, preoccupied young doctor was sniffing and blowing his nose.

Normally a perfunctory, even distasteful task, the orderlies didn’t say much as they gathered up the old fitted sheet from Eunice’s last bed, loaded all the stuff to be thrown away in it, and made the trip out to the dumpster.  Where they usually just tossed the whole load in, throwing their sterile gloves in after it, this time they kind of laid it softly on top of the pile.

On top was a faded, embroidered purple letter ‘G’; a folded card of some kind; a kind of weird, mismatched, faded old pillow; an old metal-and-wood table fork with garden string tied through a hole in the handle; and on top of it all, an old, black-and-white picture of a small, homely old house that the frame had come off of while they were tossing it into the throwaway pile.

Leon and Rocco looked at the small pile that represented Eunice’s Earthly life for a minute, then made eye contact.  Leon said, “Hey, what about her Bible?”

     “I kept that.  I didn’t figure she’d mind, and those two kids of hers sure never acted like they’d want it.  ‘Sides, a few years back after I got out of the Corps, I threw mine into the nearest river.  I kinda figure this is God’s way of replacin’ it, and my way of sayin’, “I’m sorry” to Miss Eunice for not bein’ more pleasant when it woulda mattered.”

Leon was quiet for a few seconds as he held the hospital hallway door open.  “We see this stuff all the time, Rock.  What was different here?”

Rocco shrugged.  “I never knew my mom.  Don’t know who my gramma was.”  He shifted his head towards the dumpster.  “Miss Eunice’ll do.  Hey–d’you think she’d mind if I sorta rescued the picture o’ that old house?  She’s family, now, and it’s got some meaning attached to it.  She’d want me to have it, me bein’ her grandson an’ all.”

Leon smiled.  “I’ll go on in and start washin’ down the room.  Gotta have it nice and clean for our next grams or gramps.  But I don’t plan on doin’ it all by myself, hear?”

As the door closed, Rocco turned and the morning sun glistened off the big tears flowing down his cheeks, the first time he’d cried since rotating back from his third tour of duty in Afghanistan.  Groping in his scrubs pocket for his handkerchief, he muttered to himself, “Maybe I’ll just hang onto that old pillow, too.  There’s got to be a story, and–”  here he glanced up into the clear sundrenched sky– “Miss Eunice, if you wouldn’t mind, sometime let me know what that story is.  We’re family, now, and I’d like ta know.”

© D. Dean Boone, August 2018

 

 

Categories: Inspirational, Tell-A-Story-Make-A-Point, Wisdom | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments